Daniel Negreanu Fires Shots in Wake of Chris Ferguson Apology Video
In the wake of the Chris Ferguson apology video release on Wednesday, members of the poker community have taken to Twitter to react. Chief among the disapprovers of Ferguson’s prolonged silence regarding any acknowledgment of his role in the Full Tilt Poker scandal has been Daniel Negreanu.
PokerNews caught up with "DNegs" during a break at the WPT Tournament of Champions taking place at ARIA to get a more in-depth view of his thoughts on the 42-second attempt at an apology. To preface the interview, you may want to have a look at the Twitter reactions of Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, which Negreanu also addresses in the interview.
Interview with Daniel Negreanu
Can you elaborate on your reaction to the Ferguson apology video?
It kind of seems silly to me. It almost looked like a hostage situation where he’s reading from a prompter. It was just awkward. I’m a forgiving person and Howard Lederer reached out, he wrote a letter, and I felt like he was genuine and heartfelt and he took some responsibility for his role. In this video from Chris, I didn’t hear any personal responsibility. I didn’t hear the biggest shareholder, who convinced everyone that Ray Bitar was the right CEO, really showing genuine responsibility or remorse. Besides that, in some cases there is a case of too little too late, and this was too little, and way too late.
In the video, Ferguson mentioned that he looks forward to the Full Tilt Poker story being told. What did you make of this point?
Well, the interesting thing about the Full Tilt Poker story being told…so if he tells his side of the story, then Howard tells his, and then Phil Gordon tells his, and Phil Ivey tells his, Ray Bitar tells his, it won’t be the same story. We’ll never know the whole truth. I know enough about what happened, because I was obviously intimately involved with some of the people, and from what I saw, it was gross negligence.
I felt like he was disingenuous and lying when he said, ‘I did everything I could post-Black Friday.’ That’s not what everyone else said. They said he hid in Arizona under his covers at his parents’ house and like, wouldn’t come out. And we didn’t hear from him in years. So there’s no evidence that he did anything to help. There is evidence though, that he did a lot to block deals that were potentially in place to pay the players. So that part was like, you didn’t help. I know who helped, and it wasn’t him.
Did you feel that Ferguson was indicating that if the full story was told, he would be exonerated in some way?
It doesn’t even matter at this point. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was, all that matters is, you were the head of this company and the biggest shareholder, so when you want to talk to the poker community...first, you should have done it years ago. And secondly, when you do come out, you have to come out with like, ‘I’m sorry that I…’
What did you do to contribute to this? Where was your negligence? Don’t just say, ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t prevent it. Oh ho hum, no big deal.’ I’m like, well let’s have some more depth into what you’re specifically sorry for that you did.
Do you have any thoughts about him playing again this summer at the WSOP?
Well he played last year, you know, he’s going to get flack no matter what. He’s going to get some people who don’t care. And it is what it is. I don’t think he should be banned from the World Series. Nor do I think Howard should. Russ Hamilton, on the other hand, I think [he should be banned], because he cheated in poker.
But I don’t have a problem with [Ferguson and Lederer] playing necessarily, I just think like, if it were me, I’d be completely ashamed of myself to walk in there and when someone asks me are you ever going to apologize and then you go, ‘For what?’ To me it’s like, are you insane? Are you that lacking self-awareness? Seven years later, that’s the best you can do is that 42-second clip?
What was your reaction to Hellmuth’s reaction?
I’m not surprised. Hellmuth obviously has his own scandal in his past with Ultimate Bet of course. And I’m not surprised that he is going to see the best in people. You know, he does talk about positivity — and you don’t see it at the table — but I do think he likes to see the best in people. And I think because Chris was his friend, it somewhat has blinded him from the reality of what the situation is.
Phil Hellmuth at [Ultimate Bet] was not the leader; he wasn’t running the place. Chris Ferguson was at the top and he knew everything that was going on, so Chris had a lot of responsibility. Phil not as much, so I think Phil’s just not seeing it as clearly as the rest of the community.
In case you have somehow missed the apology video heard round the world, here it is:
Lead photo courtesy of Joe Giron/WPT